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1973 Church Centennial Celebration Service Program
The following was researched and written by Shirley Happs on May 31, 2015
Melrose Methodist Church came into being in 1872. On December 27, 1873 a deed for the land was signed. The land was given by Andrew M. Johnson. In 1910, the original building was torn down and the present church was constructed. The first service was conducted in the new church on Thanksgiving Day, 1910 with three services to follow on Dedication Sunday.
Ministers were furnished by the Swedish Conference with the sermons being preached in the Swedish language until 1898. A minister came one Sunday each month, taking turns staying in different homes of the community. The church joined the American Conference in 1931.
In August of 1953, ground was broken for the building of additional space for the church. Approximately 1/6 acre of land was purchased from Karl Kimmell. The building was moved back 20 feet to allow for a basement to be dug and the wall poured. The building was moved onto the new basement by Cecil Edgerton of Danville, Iowa. A room was also added to the back corner and the entrance way on the front was erected. A fellowship hall, kitchen, toilets, gas furnace and water system were also part of the renovations. All work was donated except the moving of the building, with the cost of this being $1500.00. Money from the Lord's Acre program in 1952, 1953 1954 and 1955 paid the expenses. The first supper was served in May of 1954 and Open House was held August 27, 1954.
August 29, 1954 saw the Reverend William Tomlinson ordained by Bishop Gerald Ensley, Bishop of the Iowa area. This was the first time any Methodist minister had been ordained in a local church in this part of the state.
On January 16, 1956, a special service was held to commemorate the paying off of the note and burn the mortgage. In four years, the congregation had raised $6,180.74 to pay for the church.
The 100th Anniversary of the church was celebrated on January 7, 1973. Rev. Hollis Wilhelm was the minister at the time who, with Dr. Fred Miller had the 10:00 a.m. service. Dr. Miller preached his first sermon at the Melrose Church when he was a student at Iowa Wesleyan College.
On April 6, 1998, the church celebrated its 125th Anniversary with a 10:00 a.m. worship service featuring Rev. Dick Eis. The church pastor was Rev. Lexie Kirkpatrick. A carry-in dinner was held after the church service with a program featuring music by Kirk Brandenberger.
Melrose Ladies' Aid Society circa 1917
A meeting was held January 23, 1938 in the Melrose Methodist Church Sunday School classroom to organize the young people's class.
On March 9, 1938, the name "Winners" was selected.
To download, view and print the 1938-1942 Meeting Minutes, please click here: Melrose Winners Club
(Please note when reading the notebook, the minutes were first written on each facing page.
When the last page was reached, the minutes were then written on the back of the facing pages (starting on page 6 of this digital version).
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Family names represented in the meeting minutes are Brandenberger, Chance, Fox, Hanson,
Jeffries, Johnson, Larsen, Lind, McCarty, Nelson and Storms.
The following is taken from a documentary written by Aileen Lucille Larsen DeLellis, the daughter of Adrian and Hazel (Johnson) Larsen who was born and raised in the Melrose Community. Even though she only lived here during her "Growing Up Years", the title of her documentary, she has very vivid and fond memories. As the following article shows, Melrose Church was a very important part of her life.
If I were to name what was most influential in my growing up years, other than my parents, it would be the little white country church known as the Melrose Methodist Episcopal Church. Methodists have united, so it is now known as the Melrose United Methodist Church. Many country churches have unfortunately disappeared, but Melrose is still going, due to the support and hard work of many people through the years. I think my Grandfather (Andrew) Johnson, who donated the land and was the leader in the construction of the church in 1872, and Grandmother (Caroline Testman) Johnson would both be so very proud to know it is still an active church.
It is a small church and it is not fancy, but in my mind it has as much beauty as any of the finest churches and cathedrals I have seen around the world! It is not the ornateness or the size that determines a church's glory to God! And I feel so profoundly blessed to have been brought up in the Melrose M.E. Church. I can't imagine what my life would have been without it!!
I looked forward to going to Sunday School every Sunday. I have a Sunday School pin with 9 bars, each indicating a year of perfect attendance. My Aunt Laura (Johnson) was my Sunday School teacher many of those years and my mother was my teacher some of the years. We had Sunday School first. The Sunday School Superintendent led the congregation in hymns and prayers and the collection plate passed for donations. Then we would go to the Sunday School class for our age group, after which we would all assemble again for the church service.
For a short time in the early 30's when times were so hard, we had just a visiting minister from another county (I'm not sure where). He had other churches he went to so we didn't have him every Sunday. He had a schedule so we knew when he would come. He came on Saturday afternoon, stayed overnight, and went back home Sunday afternoon. The members of the church took turns giving him supper, boarding him, giving him dinner after church and then he was on his way back to his home. I was so glad when it was our turn! Mom always made cinnamon rolls and extra special meals when he came. I just thought it was a lot of fun, and I liked to help too!
Soon the Montrose Methodist Church and the New Boston Methodist Church joined with us at Melrose, so all together we could support a full time minister. He lived in Montrose and he had to schedule all three services each Sunday.
We had to take turns having the church service on Sunday night rather than in the morning. I was glad when we didn't have to do that very long. I liked the morning service so much better.
I looked forward to Sundays so much because I would see all my Johnson aunts and uncles and cousins, as well as all our good neighbors at church. We were all like one big happy family! There were the Pearl Jeffers family, the Carl Jeffers family, the Walter Hansen family, the McCartys, the Scoverns, the Linds, the Elmer Johnsons (no relation), the Storms, the Brandenbergers, Fishers, Wilsons, Stockwells, the Strohmiers and others. It was an active church.
There was much work to do in taking care of the church. Members were so good to volunteer their help. We took turns polishing the altar and pews, cleaning the floors, mowing the lawn. There was painting and repair to be done at times too, of course. Someone was responsible to stoke the furnace on Saturday in the winter so the church would be warm on Sunday.
Aunt Laura usually played the piano accompaniment for the singing of the hymns, etc. Doris (Larsen) sometimes played too and I did in later years occasionally. Then I remember the extra enjoyment of music by a band consisting of Doris (piano), Anson (Johnson), Merton (Lind), and Bernard (Nelson) with their respective instruments. They were good!
At Christmas time in those days, there would be a "Children's Program". We would have a Christmas pageant with costumes, carols and all. I enjoyed practicing and presenting those programs so much. I sang solos sometimes, and I remember one year I sang a duet with Bill Jeffers.
Many of the social activities of the community centered around the church. The women belonged to what was then called "The Ladies Aid Society", which met every month. They sponsored ice cream socials, church suppers, etc. to raise money for the church. People from all around the community, many even from Keokuk attended these functions.
Yes, my mind's image of that little white country church, the church of my youth, still there on Argyle Road, quickens my heart because part of my heart is still there! Going either way on Argyle Road (east or west), Melrose Church stands out on the landscape like a beacon, beckoning people to God!!